Runny nose: cold or allergy, all about runny nose
Image by gpointstudio on Freepik

A runny nose is a common symptom, most often benign and transient. It is usually indicative of a simple cold or allergy.

The runny nose can be a sign of a more serious ailment if it persists over time. In this case, it is recommended to consult a doctor. The decryption of a runny nose is a common symptom.

What is runny nose?

Rhinorrhea, more commonly known as “runny nose” is an excess of mucus produced and flowing through the front of the nose or to the throat.

The color of the flow

Excess mucus can have a clear and transparent appearance or, on the contrary, purulent and thick. This aspect is common and does not systematically correspond to a bacterial infection.

The mucus is produced naturally by the lining of the nose and sinuses. It captures impurities from the air and thus serves as a permanent protection system for the respiratory tract against infections and aggressions (smoke, dust, etc.).

Causes of runny nose

The causes of runny noses are varied. Some of the most common causes include:

  • a cold 
  • Flu 
  • sinus infection or sinusitis 
  • allergies (allergic rhinitis)
  • non-allergic rhinitis (due for example, to changes in atmospheric pressure, external aggressions, or during pregnancy).

Tobacco consumption, by weakening the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose can also lead to a chronic runny nose.

Evolution and possible complications of runny nose

If excess mucus flows down the back of your throat instead of draining through the front of your nose, it can cause a cough or sore throat.

If mucus instead flows through the Eustachian tube (the canal that connects the nose to the middle ear), this can lead to ear pain or an ear infection (otitis).

Finally, if the nose is completely blocked, the air trapped in the sinuses cannot be evacuated and then causes pressure that can lead to headaches.

In the long term, a totally stuffy nose can also cause a sinus infection (sinusitis).

Treatment and prevention: what solutions?

If the nose runs, it is possible to facilitate the flow of mucus through the nose, and thus prevent it from accumulating in the sinuses and the nose from becoming clogged.

Avoid having a runny nose

To avoid having a runny nose, there are tips, we advise you to:

  • drink plenty of fluids to keep mucus fluid;
  • apply a warm, damp cloth to the nose and face several times a day;
  • Steam inhalations 2 to 4 times a day. Using a bowl of hot water and a towel that you put on your head for example. There are decongestant medications available without a prescription that can be diluted in hot water. It is also possible to buy inhalers.

How to stop having a runny nose?

If the runny nose is too great, there are medications that can reduce the discharge. This is because these drugs dry out the nasal passages by reducing mucus production, so it is essential to use them sparingly.

If your nose runs, you can also do nasal washing to help remove mucus from your nose. For this, there are saltwater sprays that can be bought without a prescription in pharmacies.

Most often it is then recommended to make nasal sprays of saline solutions 3-4 times a day.

Antihistamines are medications that treat allergy symptoms and can therefore reduce mucus discharge. These drugs should be used with caution, as some antihistamines cause drowsiness.

If even after these tips and recommendations, the runny nose persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, or persistent cough, it is recommended to consult a doctor.

Runny nose and Covid-19

With the pandemic context, it is normal to wonder if it is not Covid-19.

In the case of a scratchy throat and runny nose, we wonder if it is a simple cold or Covid-19. Unfortunately, the symptoms are almost indistinguishable.

If the runny nose is accompanied by other symptoms of Covid-19, get tested to eliminate this doubt, and depending on the result isolate yourself and follow the protocol.

Image Credit: Image by gpointstudio on Freepik

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